See no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil. I doubt any of us have ever been able to apply this to our lives especially with the world we live in today. Somebody once said that our perceptions have been created in conjunction with how the world helps us shape them, but I doubt this is even the case anymore too. If anyone’s ever told you this, they’re fooling you- why? Well because it isn’t enough that what we see around us creates our perceptions, rather who is in control of creating our perceptions. Perhaps our story-tellers, writers and authors hold some of this power? In fact, we do. Manipulating evil into good and good into evil is in the palm of our hands.
The greatest part about writing a book is creating characters, good and evil. They’re the heart and soul of the story and indefinitely become a part of the reader’s world. Characters are the ones we adore, the ones we hate, the ones we wish we knew in real life and even the ones we wish we could be. But what does it really mean to be good and what does it really mean to be evil? Don’t we all have a little bit of both in all of us? We find comfort in the stories we read to escape from the real world and even from ourselves. I believe it’s because we would rather read about it than face our own evils.
So, this concept of good and evil -where did it come from? I’ll give you a hint. Some of it came from the two people who brought you into this world- your parents. Since we’ve been kids our mamas and our papas took whatever step needed to teach us to be good and not to be bad. I knew that my mother’s waving finger was a sign of disappointment. It was a clue that I should end whatever mischievous scheming I had going on in that little head of mine. It’s not like I listened anyway. If I had allowed her to cut off the only source to my storytelling (my imagination) then I would have been without imaginary friends and without stories for my real ones.
So I tell stories. Good ones? It’s hard to say but I know there is a fair share of good characters and evil characters. What would a story be without its villain and without its hero? Very boring, you say? I think I’d have to agree. They’re interesting stories that deliver a teeny weenie problem in the real world (sorry, I have to go here). In the midst of all the Muahaha’s [insert villain here] and some down with the bad guy! [insert superhero here], lies a bedridden assumption that there is only evil or only good. It’s been read a story, tucked in, sung a lullaby and guess what? – It’s never moving out either. Nobody ever took into account that maybe the Green Goblin had daddy issues or that Mr. Freeze was just never loved enough or that Two-Face had some serious self-esteem issues. Okay, okay all joking aside, the problem is that the dichotomy between good and evil has been constructed for us. It hasn’t only been constructed through words but through images. I guess us writers can take some of the load off. Some of the most powerful forms of representing good and evil (dark figures, manipulated, scary voices) aren’t only in the superhero comic books we read, they can be found in the television shows we watch. Although they teach moral lessons we need to look beyond that.
I thought I’d add that this cultural narrative isn’t only found in books but also in video games. Video games are just another element that give us the opportunity to see that being good has evolved into being violent. How you ask? Well let me ask you if this sounds familiar at all: “Get the bad guy!” or how about “That’s the bad guy, kill him.” Perhaps you’ve heard this in video games you’ve played. Would you like to play a video game that allows you to engage in the ambush and assassination of Osama Bin Laden? Yes, that’s right, video game companies are handing over the honor of killing the enemy to worldwide gamers. Now you can live out the fantasy of the war hero through missions and war simulations. War stories have evolved into a virtual narrative that is demonstrating propaganda at its finest. Video game companies are playing tag and guess what? You’re it! They WANT to give you the power to engage in political and military affairs without actually getting involved. This has definitely changed how we tell stories. Talk about involving the reader huh? They’re involving you through the video games’ luring and propagandistic qualities. Those who are featured as spectacles of violence have become so readily available to us, that we have them at our fingertips and can destroy them ourselves for the greater good. Video games have allowed the average person to join in the fight against the enemy desensitizing the public from the horrors of a real war. Smart huh?
I could go on and on, but this post is already getting long and it’s getting close to my bedtime. That being said, I’ll end with this: the power to create evil and to create good resonates in the characters we create in the stories we write. It’s also in the virtual narratives designed by video game creators. I suppose when I’m racing to the pearly gates I’ll have a great explanation for how good and evil have been constructed. I think I’ll be prepared for when the big guy up there gives me a tough time. After all, we’ve all got an angel and a devil on our shoulder and most of them have a special place in the stories we read.